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A look at Vance Rookwood, a dynamic scorer for the Mavs who's been there since day one.

Sports Editor

Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 20:12

“It is an absolute firecracker!” This quote by soccer commentator Ian Darke in the 2008 World Cup described Netherlands player Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s goal. The same detail also characterizes one of the Mavs most unique soccer players, Vance Rookwood.

“He’s intimidating,” head soccer coach Jason Mims said, “He’s got great length, he’s got great speed and he’s stronger than he looks.”

Rookwood was born and lived in Jamaica where he played soccer for Duhaney Park FC. The 6’2” junior also competed for a spot on the Jamaican under-20 national team for the 2008 World Cup, although injuries kept him from making the team.

Rookwood, who comes upon his third year for the Mavs this season, has been with this young program from day one through the struggles of growth and the evolution of the program.

“It feels great to know that I saw it from the beginning, and I saw it grow so I know exactly where we’re coming from and we were so far away and now we’re actually pretty good now,” Rookwood said. “I’m really optimistic about this team.”

Rookwood this season has already netted three goals, including the game winning score against Columbia, the first win of the season for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“It was unreal, I was so excited I scored that goal to get us our first win, I was just  happy for the team really because we needed a win so it wasn’t more so happy for me more so happy for the team to know that we finally got a win,” Rookwood said. “So it was a big deal to me, it was a really important goal.”

That goal gave Rookwood the honor of Summit League conference player of the week.

“That was great. It was unexpected, but it was well appreciated,”Rookwood said. “I really appreciated that it’s a really good feeling.”

Rookwood’s individual and team outlook for the future are on the next level, hoping to build upon the established progress.

“I would like to be conference player of the year. That would be a goal I’m shooting towards,” Rookwood said.  “I want to see this program challenging for the national title. That would make me so proud to know that I was there from the beginning, and now it’s in such a position that would make me so proud to know that I was there when UNO was losing a lot of games and now we’re doing so well.”

Rookwood is a playmaker. With no set position he simply has all the tools to flourish in any field position.

“He’s a utility guy,” Mims said. “He’s got a knack around the goal, on set pieces, on free kicks, off crosses, when people are kind of tired and are falling asleep he’s got a knack to find the ball.” Mims said. “He finds the ball and he’s scored a lot of goals. He’s probably been our leading scorer every semester since he’s been here. We’re happy with him in that regard.”

When asked what really sets him apart, Rookwood has one trait he believes makes him special.

“My speed. I’m faster than most college players I’d say, so with the ball at my feet I can run,” Rookwood said. “It’s hard for guys to keep up with me. I’m pretty quick so I can get behind players pretty easily I think so that’s my most affective feature I’d say, skill on the ball.”

Off the field Rookwood is not your typical college student. In a world where everyone seems to bury themselves in their phone
“I’m not that guy, face in the phone kind of guy,” Rookwood said. “It’s just for efficiency really, people can get a hold of me quickly, just like social networking, and I’m not much of a social networking kind of guy,” Rockwood said.

Rockwood’s teammate and best friend junior Joe Marinkovich has been with Rockwood since the program’s start, a time together that has made the two close.

“We have been here since the beginning of the program and have become really close friends. He always has my back and looks out for me,” Marinkovich said. “There were a lot of times where practice and playing here was really hard and we both helped each other get through it.”

Despite his aggression and intimidation on the pitch the other side of Rockwood couldn’t be more different.

“Vance is a very personable and easy going guy,” Marinkovich said. “He is charismatic and everyone wants to be around him.”

As good as he’s been thus far at UNO, potential for even more improvement is still evident.

“He’s got some things he has to work on in his game, work on his defending still work on his concentration,” Mims said. “Hopefully we can define a specific role for him. That’s up to him with how he can develop and what we can play him with his strengths and weaknesses. He’s got two years left that’s a lot of time to mature.”

This season the conference player of the week and leading UNO goal scorer might finally claim a concrete position. Until then he’ll remain as is, an absolute firecracker.


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